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Microneedling Beware, this is how it can damage your skin in 2023

Microneedling: Beware, It Can Seriously Mess With Your Skin

Primum Non Nocere. First, do no Harm.
It is the first rule of medicine; should we not extend this to skincare, too?

If you’re not immersed in the sometimes-bizarre world of beauty trends.

The practice of microneedling – may sound strange.

It’s a treatment that comes under many guises.

Dermarolling, derma stamping with PRF or PRP, and Morpheus 8, to name but a few

It also comes with an exhaustive list of benefits for your skin.

If that is the case, why are there so many concerns with this treatment?

Side effects like these that many of our customers and readers have experienced?

  • scars
  • pocking
  • infections
  • tram marks
  • enlarged pores
  • excessively oily skin
  • accelerated ageing
  • erythematous papules
  • skin pigment changes
  • permanent indentations
  • systemic hypersensitivity
  • granulomatous dermatitis
  • possible tumour formation
  • post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation

Please rest assured that scaremongering isn’t our philosophy.

But we can’t ignore the daily emails or the many comments below.

Or the case study from our client, which you can read here and another here.

Many have been physically and psychologically scarred due to poorly performed treatments.

So we put together this article to help raise awareness of the risks associated with microneedling facial treatments.

We’ll examine case studies and look at the complications that can arise.

If you are considering having a treatment, you may want to read this article first to ensure you get the best outcome.

So let’s dive right in

What Exactly is Microneedling?

It is a medical microneedling treatment that involves fine, sterile needles that vibrate at high power thousands of times over a few seconds.

The needles pierce microscopic ‘holes’ into the superficial layer of your skin.

These small and controlled piercings create channels or micro-wounds that release growth factors, which are thought to instigate a healing response in your skin, but we beg to differ – more on that later.

Your body responds to this by encouraging the formation of new collagen, elastin, and neovascularisation – the natural appearance of new blood vessels in the dermis.

Healthy Skin Before Microneedling Damage Damaged Skin After Microneedling

In technical terms, it takes advantage of your skin’s response to any inflammatory wound.

For example, if you cut your skin, your body’s first line of defence is to deploy white blood cells; these release chemicals that increase the production of components that comprises your skin’s intercellular matrix.

They tell your body to patch the hole, creating new cells at the site of the wound.

A classical wound may be defined as a disruption of tissue integrity; any wounds, whether caused by injury or remodelling, rely on the biological phases of healing: inflammation, proliferation, and remodelling.

The Misconceptions

They Say: Microneedling is a collagen-stimulating treatment that uses needles to injure your skin; this stimulates collagen and elastin production, improving skin texture, pores, and fine lines.

Naked Chemist Truth: Microneedling tears through the epidermis – your outer layer of skin and creates tiny puncture marks that play havoc with your skin’s natural defence mechanisms; this has to work harder to repair the tiny micro-tears through collagen induction, which causes a whole host of skin conditions.

It does not tighten your skin; it swells it: We don’t believe micro-needling promotes skin collagen. Because when you break down your skin’s protective barrier function with needles, you are causing trauma and temporarily injuring your skin. That tightening effect you are experiencing is actually plump, swollen skin.

It does not create a glowing complexion: That ‘lit-from-within’ glow is, infact, inflammation, which we believe is the source of premature ageing, so it is a big NO in our book.

Here at the Naked Chemist, we always question why break down your protective barrier to build it back up?

We prefer to come from a much more holistic viewpoint, to treat “like with like” with gentle, healing formulas that keep your protective barrier intact and the delicate microflora that makes up your acid mantle healthy – surely that makes more sense?

This is a Painful Procedure

Even a 0.2 mm puncture can cause an inflammatory response in your skin, leading to problems at any depth.

Not only that, but you are effectively injecting active serums at a depth where serums are not meant to go.

Bottom line: If your skin is impaired, red, dry, inflamed, or you have acne inflammation, it requires a super-healthy skin response, and if it is stressed, you are almost certainly at risk of damage, as this study shows (1).


Clemmy from London wrote: “Help, my skin looks worse after microneedling. The treatment felt like it shredded my skin beneath the surface, my once-perfect skin is ruined, and I feel like I could cry; it has lost all firmness and support. I know it has been structurally damaged, and I looked grazed all over. I don’t want to leave the house and after 6 months, it is still not healing. I had no idea about the risks of microneedling.”

Nancy from Australia wrote: “The day after having morpheus8, my face became swollen, and there were scratch-like marks, I was shaking during the procedure! I should have known something was wrong then, and I had bruising. I was told to do a course of peels to eliminate the lines, which sent my skin into inflammation mode. Today my skin has tiny holes and lines in it. With your team’s help and your incredible products, it has been slowly repairing, but it has taken a lot of time and effort, i wished i’d never had this treatment.”

Angela, a client, experienced the following: “I am 43 and this micro needling treatment has left my face inflamed and I am battling severe facial burning. My once smooth skin is sensitive, and my pores are enlarged. I have been to a few dermatologists who have no idea what to do. Your advice is helping to rebuild my skin. I can’t thank you enough. I wish I had known about these microneedling side effects earlier.”

Marian from the USA wrote: “Micro rolling has destroyed my skin. It has left bumps and holes in my face and requires total resurfacing, which I am scared to do. It has dried out my skin and created strange horizontal lines I did not previously have; in short, microneedling at home is UNSAFE. Do not attempt it.”

Jen from Australia wrote: “After having 25 pages of blood tests, my dermatologist was very thorough, it been found that my condition is due to having a course of microneedling with PRP, treatments. I am devastated; my dermatologist believes I have solid facial oedema, which is very rare. I am now on Roaccutane & may need to be on it for 1-2 years; although my skin is responding, this will be a long battle to get rid of it. I’m completely shattered. I would NEVER recommend micro-needling to anyone. I warn all my friends about the micro needling risks so they never suffer like I am. Your Bio lipid has been a lifesaver I refer to it as liquid gold.”

For those of you who openly shared your microneedling before and after journey, thank you, we hope that together we can help rebuild the health of your skin.

If you are unfortunate enough to have suffered a severe reaction, next up, we will look at what can go wrong, so keep reading.

These interesting case studies (2) looked at people who suffered facial allergic granulomatous reactions and hypersensitivity associated with microneedling treatment.

Side Effects of Microneedle Treatment

1. My skin is inflamed, and I’ve developed rosacea.

Chronic inflammation is highly damaging.

By its very design, microneedling creates a measured degree of inflammation (depending on the depth of the needles), which is a normal, physiological response to the trauma.

Most mild allergic or inflammatory responses will go away after a week.

If you find that it persists, it could be because your immune system is trying to block a substance that it perceives as a foreign body that it can’t eliminate. This could be due to chemicals, organic and inorganic materials or bacterial infection.

The appearance of redness and swelling may not be visible to the naked eye at first, which can be misleading.

However, inflammation that makes your skin painful to touch could be taking its toll on the structural cells and matrix proteins within the dermis, the deeper layers of your skin.

It may also signify something more insidious and pathological such as rosacea or granulomatous dermatoses, which become apparent as the underlying infection or localised lesions inflame and distort tissues; this can take weeks or even months to develop.

Because it resembles skin changes associated with accelerated skin ageing, it’s referred to in the industry as “skin flamm’ageing”.

Furthermore, any plumping sensation that may occur is an illusion; this is merely your body creating inflammation, causing the area to swell.

When inflammation occurs, skin cells break down collagen, further accelerating ageing.

2. My skin looks prematurely aged, and wrinkles are appearing

When needles penetrate the dermis, the deeper layer of your skin, it creates an inflammatory response that boosts fibronectin production.

This glycoprotein creates a type of ‘scaffolding’ onto which the newly inducted collagen is deposited; over time, this collagen undergoes a conversion process where it naturally tightens up, which reduces wrinkles and helps resurface scars that may be present on your skin.

When you puncture your skin with needles, you rip at the collagen fibres, causing mechanical damage and desensitising the receptors responsible for signalling collagen synthesis; this is evident when clients say the first treatment was successful, but the subsequent treatments had the opposite effect.

The constant destruction of collagen through needling forces your body to produce new collagen fibres to replace it; over time, this natural ability becomes depleted, thus accelerating the ageing process.

It is important to note that when you are microneedling, it creates a stress response. When your body is exposed to this stressor – it quickly tries to replace the collagen that has been lost.

Whilst this may give the appearance of plump skin, the reality is that any underlying damage done to your skin’s internal scaffolding can show immediately or take years to manifest.

But the damage is done – lines and wrinkles, hollow areas and sagging skin all become increasingly apparent,

Cell death and telomere destruction

It’s worth noting that when you puncture your cells with needles, you damage the integrity of a healthy cell, causing cell death and, thus, accelerating the ageing process.

Cellular turnover occurs when skin cells are replaced by another live skin cell via cellular division.

When this happens, the end of the chromosome within the cell’s nucleus is cut off; this is referred to as a telomere; once 60 divisions have taken place, the telomere completely cuts off, and ageing begins.

Micro-needling accelerates the rate at which cell division occurs in your skin; the faster it happens, the more your skin ages, leading to sagging and expression lines.

3. My skin Becomes Inflamed When I Apply Products.

Microneedling dramatically disrupts your skin’s impermeable barrier function, which is made up of multiple layers of ‘dead keratinised cells which are there to protect your deeper, living cells.

The needles pierce through these layers, creating thousands of channels that enable topically-applied substances to penetrate.

The flip side is that until these channels form effective plugs and initiate the healing process, your skin is left wide open and vulnerable to anything it comes into contact with; yikes!

Many risks associated with this treatment are often unrelated to the needling procedure. They can be due to the topical solutions applied to the skin during maximal barrier function disruption.

Substances that are part of one’s normal physiology and found naturally within your skin are safe; substances that are not should be avoided.

This is why we only recommend “skin-identical hyaluronic acid” when you are in the healing stage, once healed, followed by a formula containing ceramides, lipids, cholesterol and fatty acids.

We created an entire article that discusses what happens when you micro-needle certain ingredients into your skin, which you can read here.

4. My skin was dry but is now oily and has an orange-peel texture.

When you microneedle your skin, you create hundreds to thousands of puncture holes in your skin, and although not visible to the naked eye, these holes are large enough to create pathways to your bloodstream.

Your skin sees this as trauma, and your sebaceous glands go into overdrive, causing your skin to become excessively oily.

Bacteria can get trapped in your pores, causing breakouts, and your skin takes on an uneven orange peel texture, almost like cellulite. These textural changes are usually due to low-grade inflammation caused by the needling.

Other issues include raised milia-like bumps, blackheads and extended pores.

5. I have horizontal track marks on my skin.

We are often asked if this is a normal side effect; here’s the long answer:

Suppose your esthetician was gentle and thorough and knew how to hold, position, and vary the penetration depth to prevent damage.

These marks reflect the pattern they used to get uniform coverage in different areas of your skin and should fade within a few days.

Complications arise due to “operator error” of the hand-held device, where too much pressure was applied over the bony areas. This can lead to bruising and tram-track scarring.

Interestingly this study (3) carried out by Yadav and Dogra also attributes this finding to nickel-contact dermatitis.

Cross-contamination is possible during this treatment, and if a microneedle or derma roller is used, the handpiece has the potential for backflow; that’s why hygienic practices are essential to minimise the risk of contamination.

6. I have dark patches and uneven skin tone.

Trauma to your skin can cause melanin – the pigment that causes colour changes – making it rush to the injury site, creating hyperpigmentation.

Anyone with a darker skin type, type 3 or higher on the Fitzpatrick scale, may be at risk of hyperpigmentation in response to inflammation.

Inexperienced practitioners won’t know to assess their client’s skin on the Fitzpatrick scale, which can also result in these pigmentation changes.

Another reason you need to be so careful about who you use to treat your skin is that this is a treatment that is not to be taken lightly.

7. Can needling trigger tumour formation?

The old school of thought was that old skin wounds were benign. This research (4) found that skin wounds can cause basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer.

Its origins start in the basal cell layer, the lower part of the epidermis, and the cells of hair follicles. The formation of tumours occurs when errors in the follicular cell’s DNA cause unregulated cellular division, leading to tumorous growth.

It is understood that a wide range of wound-type injuries, even minor wounds like paper cuts, can activate cancer-provoking genes in your skin as it heals.

Reiter & Wong hypothesised that skin wounds might promote basal cell carcinoma. Their research (5) found that stem cells in hair follicles can transform into cancerous cells while healing an injury.

Reiter and wong state that scientists believe cancers are wounds gone awry. Usually, the hair follicle represses the tumour-generating potential of the stem cells, he says, but when these cells become unstable, trouble begins.

These findings are essential; Reiter & Wong found that the development of basal cell carcinomas is not exclusive to large wounds: even minor incisions could induce carcinomas – such as those created by micro-needling.

Micro-needling causes tiny wounds in your skin, which mobilises cells from the hair follicles to heal injuries; by mobilising these cells into the epidermis, your outer layer of skin can produce tumours.

How do I care for my damaged skin?

Will my skin ever recover after microneedling? It is a question we get asked daily.

Fortunately, there is hope; you can heal your skin damaged by microneedling, but how long it takes depends on the damage and how your skin responds to treatment.

Some clients’ skin heals in 6 to 12 weeks, in line with cellular turnover. For others, it can take longer, but it is achievable with the correct treatment protocol and effective ingredients.

Keeping it pure and simple is our mantra when treating your skin after a damaging micro-needling session;

We recommend using a consistent skincare regime with gentle topicals that are barrier-repairing.

You want to keep inflammation out of your skin as much as possible, so avoid using actives like Vitamin C and A until your barrier function repairs and your skin begins to heal.

Granulomatous reactions in response to the unauthorised use of topical products not approved for intradermal injection have been reported in three patients undergoing microneedling treatment in this study (6).

To Conclude. The naked truth

It’s true for some people, micro-needling is successful.

But surely we can’t ignore the number of people experiencing complications, including premature ageing, sagging skin, and changes in skin texture and conditions.

For instance, someone with once dry skin may now be experiencing oily skin, enlarged pores, and even breakouts,

They may also experience more severe side effects such as horizontal tract marks, permanent scarring and indentations or hyper and hypo-pigmentary changes in their skin.

Granulomatous infections are very serious. Initially, they don’t look like you think they should, and they can appear benign and subtle at first; signs you have such an infection is that your skin might be irritated and feel like it’s not healing.

This is because your body’s immune system is holding the offending bacteria, the pathogen, in partial check but isn’t strong enough to eliminate it so inflammation may be bubbling away under your skin’s surface.

The bottom line. Be careful with treating your skin; get a second or third opinion, and do your research well.

You are responsible for caring for your primary organ that protects you every second of your life.

If you are concerned, contact us here with photos, so we can review them and offer you the best advice moving forward.


  1. Unintended widespread facial autoinoculation of varicella by home microneedling roller device.

  2. Facial Allergic Granulomatous Reaction and Systemic Hypersensitivity Associated With Microneedle Therapy for Skin Rejuvenation.

  3. A Cutaneous Reaction to Microneedling for Postacne Scarring Caused by Nickel Hypersensitivity.
  4. Previous injuries or scars are risk factors for basal cell carcinoma development.
  5. Mutant stem cells can cause skin cancer at cuts.

  6. Facial allergic granulomatous reaction and systemic hypersensitivity associated with microneedle therapy for skin rejuvenation.

438 thoughts on “Microneedling Beware, this is how it can damage your skin in 2023

  1. Bisma says:

    I had six PRP sessions all sessions went well except the last one. Last one was too deep and painful. My face has turned dark on the areas I had microneedling. And pores are more visible now. I don’t know what to do how can I heal this please help me guide me

    • Samantha Miller says:

      Hi Bisma we are really sorry to hear about your skin. What has happened is that the melanin has rushed to the site of the injury as a protective mechanism. This is very hard to get rid of sadly as the damage is done deep within your deeper layers of skin your dermis. We wish you all the best with your skin Bisma

  2. Alison Woods says:

    I did micro needling on my neck and after one treatment my skin forms bumps like goosebumps and my skin has been ruined and looks much worse than before. Is there anything I can do?

  3. Susan Schwartz says:

    The tech that did my micro needling lied about her extensive training and experience. I had to hide for 2 weeks and fortunately we had to wear masks so I could be seen in public eventually. I had this treatment 7 years ago by the Dr (gyno ) that owns the practice. She was assisted by a nurse with 20 years experience .The procedure went very well. I had 3 treatments , the last with PRP. I felt that it did improve my skin and was an easy recovery. This last time the girl was not assisted , she smeared numbing cream on my face and got it in my eye. She seemed nervous and did not seem to be familiar with the equipment . I wish I had trusted my instincts and stopped the procedure. I looked like a burn victim for weeks. My husband wanted to take me to an ER. I spoke with the office and was told this was normal. I waited it out and by 3 weeks the oozing stopped. I had growths growing next to my eye and my real Dermatologist was afraid the aggressive trauma had woken up cancer cells. I went to another specialist but could not get in for 3 months. The growths had calmed but I still can’t wear glasses as the skin was ground down and wearing glasses feels like a 5 pound weight and leaves red marks for hours. I have bags under each eye that I did not have before. I look 10 years older. I went back after a month and the same tech wanted to inject me with Botox. I told her it was not effective on me. She told me Xeoman was different and would be great. It did nothing. She also stuck filler in my lips which I did not ask for and have never had before. I had a hard bump in my lip for months. I have been a wreck from this. I have hollowing around my eyes and very dark circles. She ground at a mole and I told her to stop during the initial procedure. My dermatologist said she had never seen the skin pin used so close to the eyes. When I expressed my concern to the tech later she told me the dark circles and darkness over my top lip might never resolve. Thanks a lot. They refunded my money but that does not make up for the damage. I am now going to a reputable plastic surgery facility and they are trying to get my skin in better shape. Hoping to thicken the skin so I can get the bags taken care of. I don’t know what else I can do.

    • Samantha Miller says:

      Hi Susan so traumatic we really are so sorry to hear about your very traumatic experience. How awful and also putting filler in your lip without your consent! We really do hope you get the skin healing you so deserve..

    • Samantha Miller says:

      Hi Sam

      Absolutely not no? That is not the role of tretinoin on the skin to kill off cells rather boost cellular renewal. Where many people get it wrong with tretinoin topically is using to much to often and to high quantity. think low and slow to build your base and strengthen your skins foundation.

  4. Judy says:

    Hi Samantha, I got one microneedling treatment done in late April/early May. It was fine at first and I thought I recovered but then I started experiencing so much inflammation/irritation and rosacea-like symptoms on my face. I’ve tried antibiotics and topical steroids, which didn’t help! It’s been so painful and uncomfortable and I was just put on oral steroids. Is this damage possibly caused by microneedling even after so many months and is it permanent? 🙁

    • Samantha Miller says:

      Hi Judy sorry to hear about your skin and yes it is possible, we see it a lot from clients coming to us after just one treatment. Either that or it will flare up after the second or third treatment. If you want to send a couple of photos please reach out to us at and we can look at your skin more closely

  5. Kim says:

    I had morpheus 8 over six months ago and now my pores are enlarged and full of tiny holes and red in patches. Is there anything I can do to help this? My skin never looked like this before and it’s making me so sad.

  6. Jess says:

    I sent you an email. I’ve exhausted all treatment methods and professionals trying to repair my dry, rough skin since a dermapen treatment a year and a half ago and nothing works for long.
    I hope you can point me in the right direction!

    • Samantha Miller says:

      Hi Jess. yess so sorry to see your skin like this, we have seen this as a direct result of micro-needling (These are sebaceous filaments not to be confused with blocked pores or acne). We are interestingly shortly going to be doing an article on this shortly because many people write to us about this condition after trauma to their skin such as micro-needling or laser. We have sent you an email hope this helps.

  7. Diane Shaver says:

    I had 1 session of Morpheus 8 done 6 weeks ago and I have raised bumps that won’t go away. Looks like keratosis Pilaris but resemble the areas they stamped with the needles. My skin was smooth before, but isn’t anymore. I’m afraid it’s permanent.

  8. Livi says:

    Hi I have a rash and orange peel like texture to my knees. This is 8 weeks after treatment. I don’t know what to do. It has also caused premature wrinkling on my knees. The part that wasn’t treated looks normal. My body had a allergic reaction and for a while my whole body went into overdrive.

  9. Kit says:

    Hi Sam, I had microneedling done 16 months ago. It was my third treatment and my skin has changed for the worse. I have track marks and dimpling on my face (like cellulite). My texture feels smooth, but looks rough — almost like a rash. I’m not sure what the best course of action is. Red light therapy? Clear and brilliant laser? Fraxel? I have been using tretinoin .05 for the past year but I am unsure if I should continue. This has caused me great emotional distress. Any help is much appreciated! Thank you.

  10. Annette Ortiz says:

    I had Microneedling done 5 wks ago and have horizontal lines and crows feet I didn’t have before. Wrinkles are more noticeable in the sun. Please help.

  11. Liliana Olivera says:

    Hello I have the same problem my skin looks bad full of little holes I did it to correct my acne scars buy no I feel like an orange, the treatment I had was microchanneling and it was suposed to be more advanced and without side effects, the esthetician did one peel 4 weeks before so maybe that was the problem, she sold me growth factors for after care but now has been two months and still have marks what would be the best treatment.

    • Samantha Miller says:

      Hi Liliana, they absolutely should not have been prepping your skin with a course of peels. What they were doing was undermining the integrity of your skin rather than build ing it back up! I am so sorry to hear this. You should ask them for a course of red light therapy complimentary at the very least!

  12. Laurie Kirby says:

    I look terrible after microneedling with horizontal scars and now deeper pits. Do NOT get ! It’s been 3 months.

    • Samantha Miller says:

      Hi Laurie, we are so sorry to hear this. What has happened to your skin is not uncommon. Have you been back to the clinic? have you asked for a complimentary course of red light therapy? At least six, they should offer you one. Have you stopped all active and stripped back your skincare routine? If you have done all of these yet are still seeing problems, please do reach out to me at we will try to offer further advice. Thank you Samantha

    • Kristina says:

      My name is Kristina. I’ve done Morpheus twice and micro channeling treatments… my skin has so many tinny holes now … is the a way to reverse it ?
      Thank you

  13. J says:

    My microneedling operation was held a few years ago. I have a severe orange peel pattern on my skin now. It’s greatly affecting my dating life and self confidence. The holes are encouraging wrinkles to form everywhere. Is there anything that I can do to lessen the damage? It’s extremely upsetting.

  14. Nicole says:

    I wish I had read this befor my tx. I has Genuis micronneedling on my neck two weeks ago at well know derm office and have red track marks all over my neck. I’m freaking out. Not sure what to do. My derm said has never seen this. My derm wants to do laser but I’m too scared. I think I should wait and let skin calm down. She put me on a topical cortisone cream and allergy meds but no change. Will these tracks go away in time? Will a laser (now or later)help the tracks go away. PS I didn’t need this treatment… mad at myself. thank you

    • Samantha Miller says:

      Hi, Nicole so sorry to hear this. we get many weekly emails with photos of people documenting the terrible side effects of this treatment. Anything that disrupts the protective barrier and delicate microflora is a no on our book; why break it down to have to build it back up? We do love red light therapy as a treatment but steer clear of more invasive treatments.

    • Stacey Teller says:

      Hi:) I had the same thing from Morpheus 8. I was very worried- looked terrible (and I had my face, neck AND chest done. By week 5 and 6, it looked great! Try not to worry and def don’t do more things to your skin. Use gentle products. Hope it went well😊

      • Maritere says:

        So it improved by itself after 6 weeks? I’m on week 4 and have some bumps in my neck and abdomen.. I want them gone ASAP… does anyone have any suggestions?

        • Angela K Matousek says:

          I am doing at home microneedling. The 3rd time, I ended up with what looks like a blood blister on the right side of my forehead. I only used a .5 mm depth. What do I do to help the blood blister go away?

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